Oh, is it ever marvelous when you finally see the killer reveal that giant blade and finally slash away at those pesky teenagers. I’m looking at you, Mr. Vorhees. But what could have been, had Friday the 13th been a psychological horror or a supernatural story instead? Would’ve it been worse? Probably, but let's see if this applies to other stories and find out whether or not horror films should consider non-violence in their stories. Why is this important? Let’s find out.
What is the purpose of violence in film? Or better yet, what was the original intent for violence? It was typically used as a way to heighten tension, establish realism, and/or hurt/kill some character we care for to build a story further. But in modern films, it's practically everywhere. Even in a G-rated film, there is some level of violence such as punching or smacking someone.
For horror, do we really need to establish realism or build up stories with death? I would argue that yes, horror leans into violence and blends well because of the fact the genre exposes a fear of ours. Death! That’s what draws us in, that we can play around with the ideas or feelings but never risk our own lives in the process. That’s why horror films can be so interesting. We experience what the characters experience.
But what about psychological horrors vs slashers? Is one better than the other because of the level of violence? I would argue that each niche feeds into their own audience for one reason -- we want to see a story in that unique lens. Sometimes, you just want to relax and watch some clueless ducks get smacked with a machete. You can turn your brain off and smile in awe as you witness some extremely violent acts. It’s very primal, which is what makes iconic stories and films so memorable. It preys on our deeper, more personal feelings and exposes them.
What do you think? Do horror films use violence far too often, or are you wanting them to really crank it up a notch? Let’s talk about it!